Minack. I don't think I ever explained what I was going to be doing with myself this week - maybe I did, but it must have been a while ago. The Minack, as you can see from the picture, is an outdoor theatre perched on the cliffs on the South Cornish coast, between Penzance and Land's End. It's a funny venue in many ways in that the scenery is so spectacular that whatever you put on the stage is more or less dwarfed by it. Design is difficult because the setting intrudes itself onto your piece - in an ordinary theatre, you have a black box which is effectively a blank canvas for whatever you choose to do with it. Here, that's just not the case. They get a lot of Shakespeare, because it's the sort of space that can lend itself very well to that sort of show. G&S, like we were doing, fits equally well. I'm not sure that anything postmodern would have much in the way of success - it would need one hell of a designer to make it work.
This time around, for a change, I was being a sound minion. Was good fun, actually, though it rapidly became clear that I'd picked the most labour intensive of positions for this show. Obviously, because it's outside, we have to bring in our equipment every day. It's also open to tourists in the daytime, so we can't leave things like microphones out because they'll get nicked. This meant that we had about 45 minutes moderate to heavy lifting every day, before we moved onto the lighter but more time consuming task of changing all the radio mic batteries and testing transmitters, receivers and capsules. The latter was quite fun actually - as the single singing noise person (Tamsin and I vetoed the term 'noise boys'. Half of us were girls.) I got to sing into the mics from the desk, confusing tourists who heard me coming out of the band speaker and couldn't work out where I was, or standing on the stage belting. It's REALLY hard to pick something to sing when someone just says 'sing something'. Quite entertaining though. Salvador accused me of never singing anything that's not in a minor key. I realised that I don't really KNOW anything not in a minor key. To cap it all, the Minack opens the house TWO AND A HALF HOURS before the show starts, because a lot of people bring picnics and watch the sun on the sea before the show starts. This means that for a show that starts at 8, the house opens at 6:30. In order to get our prep done in time for a soundcheck, our call was 3pm. For the matinees (2.30pm), our call was 9am. This was a little painful, since on matinee days we got in at 9 and left at around 11, since we had to do a get out every day as well. Madness.
Having moaned a lot so far, it was actually awesome. My back won't recover from its unaccustomed heavy lifting for a while, but it was still awesome. I now have a reasonable idea of how sound works and how you achieve what you're trying to achieve. I'd like to do some more minioning, but I'm not sure when I'll next get the chance - unlikely in St Albans, anyway. If I don't use what I've learnt this week I'll forget it, which will be annoying.
The show itself was pretty good, even given it was G&S - really well sung from both principals and chorus. The violins (viledins) were a little ropey, but the rest of the orchestra was damn good, too. Full and appreciative houses is always a nice touch. No major disasters from anyone's point of view, I think. There were a few quibbles about direction before show week, but when aren't there. It was a first class cast and they pulled it off.
It was a great group of people in general, actually. It was nice to get to know a crowd of the techies I didn't really know before, and to catch up with the ones I've not seen for ages. This year saw a lot of entertaining breakdowns, like the one that involved the towing of Pete's car from Bodmin and the Breaking of the Tow Rope. The Mills van that had been towing Pete's car also suffered, on the switchback bend near the theatre. Nice. Dominic's car also went. I suppose you could even count the petrol/diesel debacle and the Clio's bustness that affected MY car situation, too. Christian managed to run his battery down by running his laptop off it for too long, and ended up stranded in a field until he got hold of some jump leads and a handy person to give him a boost. We laughed though...
Anyway. I drove back up on Sunday in convoy with Christian, so we could share the Tamsin and it could keep us awake. We'd checked into a youth hostel after the get out in the hope of getting enough sleep to cope, but it was still a bit touch and go. That drive has to be one of my less favourite driving experiences. Since I got back, I've mainly been sleeping - a very necessary activity. I have boiled three pans of gravel to fill the big aqarium I'm transferring Azrael and Boris to and bought a new filter for that. I've asked my brother if his boss could give me a job and sent them a CV. I've just sent the brother the CV to print off at work, since I haven't got space to set up my printer until he moves out, and anyway it's in the roof. This will mean I can take that around the agencies this afternoon. I've decided I need to buy that mac pretty damn soon because my external hard-drive has started playing silly buggers and I want to get stuff off it asap. I need a tame student for that, though. I will see if I can mail order it via Andy later in the week, I think.
Long list of stuff. I'll stop procrastinating about the spec letters to random people in random theatres of the 'give me a job please' type. Has anyone got a copy of yesterday's Guardian?